Is instagram becoming dangerous for our health? This question has been humming in my head for a at least a year. And though I’ve talked about it a million times before I though it was time to write it all down since it looks like something might be finally moving.
More and more studies are showing the side-effects social media are causing on our mental health, and apparently Instagram is the worst platform of all for our wellbeing, especially for young people. According to some of these studies it negatively affects sleep quality, body image and self esteem, triggering feelings of inadequacy, FOMO, anxiety and depression that in extreme—but existent—cases lead to suicide. Teenagers are certainly more affected but the problem extends to all of us.
We are constantly under pressure: pressure to be cool, to be beautiful, to be popular, to be engaged, to be rich, to be happy, to be perfect and have a perfect life …But perfection is bullshit, our pictures on instagram are bullshit!
After I published the infamous “Instagram Created a Monster” beside the media-storm it triggered, I was blown away by the thousands of heart-felted messages I received. Most of them were from people telling me in how much pain they were, how depressed, tired, uninspired, broken they felt because of social media. It was heartbreaking reading through and It was evident that there was a problem that went beyond some stupid number games, it was a social problem, an alarming sign of where we’re headed.
I’m writing this because I’m part of the problem and I wan’t to be part of the solution instead. This time is not instagram to blame, it’s the way we use it and, unfortunately, above all, it’s us to blame! Us instagrammers, bloggers and influencers alike. We have created this and we should be the ones to make amend and fix things.
UNREALISTIC LIFE STANDARDS AND WHY THEY ARE DANGEROUS
The core problem is very similar to the one I’m fighting against with my project Quest for Beauty, but while there I’m dealing with unrealistic beauty standards (killer of self esteem that make women feel horrible about themselves), here we are talking about unrealistic LIFE standard, which is a larger issue!
We created a world where fakeness is constantly sold as real life, skewing the collective perception of reality and making incredible damages to our mind and our self esteem, sometime without us even knowing it.
Today there are countless so-called-influencers posting beautiful glossy images of their even glossier lives. When you open your feed you are bombarded by images of people eating lavishes breakfasts poolside, wearing their fluffy white bathrobe in luxurious hotels, always looking impeccable, always wearing fashionable clothes, always doing cool shit…I think you already know but just in case someone still have doubts: THAT SHIT AIN’T REAL!
I know. Most of you know. But apparently some people don’t know nor understand the extent of the fakness that goes on so let me enlighten those of you!
BEHIND THE PICTURES
All the perfect pretty pics you see on instagram are staged and constructed created by visual professionals. They don’t capture beautiful moments of our life, we stop our life to create those moments!
You viewer should look at our pictures as either art, editorial content or straight on advertising sometime. Comparing yourself or your life to those of influencers is a toxic game that doesn nothing but harm to you.
We are content creators—which is a much more humble way to call us than ‘influencers’ especially considering that many of us don’t actually have any influence since they bought and cheated their way to high numbers, but that’s an old story!—’Content Creator’ means we are professional image (or video) makers who know how to create commercial and editorial images who,by the way, often take hours of work to make. With these pictures we set visual trends that are then emulated by the regular Joe, which in turn feels compelled to show similar pictures on his instagram and will only posts the best of the best of his life on there, creating a vicious cycle.
Although you’ll never see me in a fucking white bathrobe—nor showing my ass in a bikini—of course I’m the first to blame! the images I post on my IG account, especially the ones with me in them*, are simply poetic painted dreams, constructed travel fairytales that should be looked at as paintings and are meant to inspire you to dream harder and find the courage to fly away one day, especially if you are stuck in an office or in a job you hate. My pictures don’t reflect my real life which is actually a real mess full of constant uncertainty and struggles of all kinds—especially financial ones—brimming of ups and downs, and where tears are shed more often that you might think.[And guys just FYI, most of my “travel influencer” friends are so stressed out they don’t even enjoy the places they visit! I had ‘colleague’ friends confessing me that they hate travel before…wtf!]
But I say these things in my captions (and if you are too lazy to read them, that’s your problem!), I talk about it in my stories, and on this blog; I make sure I never trick who follows me into believing I have a perfect life because perfection is dangerous and an enemy of happiness. The bigger problem here is that 90% of my ‘collegues’ don’t say the pictures are staged, and instead they write captions like “Woke up like this” to pump up their ego instead of being truthful, and that’s were the damage starts and where the old killer mechanism is triggered.
Images are powerful tools and if used the wrong way they can have devastating consequences.
THE “I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH” MACHINE
People see other people’s perfect(fake) life and start wondering “Why isn’t my life like that?”. It’s human nature, we can’t help but comapring ourselves to others. It takes a lot of work on yourself and the ability to decondition your thinking to be immune to those kind of thoughts. Basically this is how our brain works:
You scroll down your feed and you see countless perfect pictures of perfect people that live perfect lives, everything is polished, dreamy and attractive. While you are scrolling you start feeling uneasy, you think “hmm, this person’s life is awesome” ,”this other person’s life is awesome” and then you slowly spiral down the inevitable vortex of self loathing “Fuck, my life is not like this” “My life sucks” ,”My life is shit” ,”I’m shit”…it’s a linear process and once you set down your phone you are left with a sense of inadequacy, You might feel ugly, a loser, like your life isn’t good enough, or even worst, like YOU aren’t good enough.
SELF ESTEEM THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE
What I just explained up there is the beginning of the toughts that end up killing your self esteem. And we all know that when our self esteem is low we can’t reach our full potential. Believing is the key to many many things in life and believing in yourself is the only way you will ever achieve your dreams. So if your self esteem is low, bye bye dreams, hello depression!
It’s a poisonous system.
So, is the world fucked?
If you follow me you know I’m an optimist and I believe that even in the darkest of times there will always be a spark of hope, so no, we aren’t fucked! We can still change things and make it better for the ones who’ll come after us. Social media is not all bad, it’s an amazing tool if used for good. It can make us reach what just a few years ago was unthinkable. We just need to use it the right way and for less egotistic purposes.
How do we fix this mess? How do we unfuck ourselves?
The cure is simple: with Truth and Honesty.
Now more than ever there’s a desperate need for truth and it’s time to move things towards another direction for everyone’s sake before we hit a point of non-return…dehumanization. We need to be honest about life, show ourselves for who we are: beautifully imperfect humans!
Here are my two cents on how we can change things a bit:
FOR THE INFLUENCERS
Is pumping your ego so important? Is selling lies for coolness (or money) that necessary? (I’m talking to the sneaky ones here! There are a ton of bloggers, instagrammers and influencers out there that do thing with authenticity and transparency and are honest and genuine, we’re not all bad.)
We have the incredible luck to have a voice and people who listen to it. We should use that voice for good, to make things better for everyone else. I’m more convinced than ever that we are all connected in ways we don’t understand and that the collective wellbeing is vital for our personal well-being too in the end. This shit is hurting people and it has to stop!
As ‘influencers’ and visual storytellers we have a responsibility to be honest. Stop tricking people, be genuine, be real about your life, show yourself for who you are. Being vulnerable is much more admirable than being perfect and your ‘human you’ is much more interesting than the wrap of bs appearances built around it!
You can keep posting your glossy picture just stop making people believe that’s reality, because you know damn well it isn’t! Spread awareness about it, tell your followers the truth and see what happens, you might be surprised!
All this ego, all this fakeness…what kind of value are we adding to society?
Think about that!
FOR THE VIEWERS
If spending time on social media makes you feel like your life sucks, please, spend less time online and more time living life, doing the things you love to do and focusing on your dreams and suddenly life won’t suck at all!
If scrolling down your feeds makes you feel bad, unfollow the people whose pics make you feel bad…myself included! When something makes you feel shitty try to understand why and then remove it from your life; You have the power to chose who you follow and what kind of content you get fed, and, even more important—but much more difficult to do—you have the power to chose your thoughts.
Do you remember who you were before social media? Be that person!
So if you are one of those people affected by all these, please understand there’s nothing wrong with your life, you are just the victim of a fucked up world, a world that now more than ever needs honesty and truth, it’s time to start going towards that direction!
I’m going that way, and you?
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
― George Orwell
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DISCLAIMER FOR THE HATERS
-I know there will be the usual “You discovered hot water” comment. If you are compelled to be the one writing that comment, this article wasn’t meant for you! if you already knew everything I said, good for you! My applause! But given the insane amount of messages I receive on this topic, well, someone apparently didn’t know!
-If you are stumbling across this page because someone linked to this article and you don’t know me, before writing the usual mean comment where you tell me how much of an hypocrite I am and “go get a real job”, please do your research about me and my work before wasting your (and my) time!